iPad, Apps, and the Yearbook

My iPad 2

My iPad 2

Using the iPad in a Yearbook Class

It seems pretty obvious to me that the iPad has impacted my English classes the most so far. The 1 -1 program allowed me to move towards a paperless classroom mainly by changing the way I distribute and collect assignments in those classes. While ideas on how to use it in an English class came pretty fast and furious when the administration announced the plan, ideas on how to use it in my journalism class, and, by extension, the yearbook were a little harder to develop. In a lot of ways they still are.

But it is the possibilities of how the iPad might provide some change in the journalism class, the yearbook production process, and the yearbook itself that keeps whispering in the back of my mind. I can’t quite make out the whispers, but I think they are hinting at some big changes in the future.

While I have already mused about what the iPad and ebooks might mean for the yearbook of the future, I still want to figure out some ways to use it now that engages my yearbook staff more, makes their tasks easier, and transforms our yearbook. Is that too much to ask?

I suppose I have a hard time envisioning ways to use the iPad to do a lot of yearbook tasks in a new way because, in some aspects, our yearbook program has been pretty tech centered for years. Many of the practices that are new to my English classes this year are an old hat in the yearbook class. The staff creates the book online. I send messages to the staff via our yearbook company’s online program. The staffers write all of their articles on computers in the lab. They save them on the school network and email them to me. Bringing in the iPad doesn’t seem to offer anything that warrants changing so far. As for the biggest and most important activity: creating the page`s, that can not be done on the iPad because our online design program requires Flash.

Despite my desire for a game changing impact involving the iPad and the yearbook, I do recognize that there are some apps that yearbook staffs may find useful.`So, think of the following as possible starting points while we wait for the revolution.

iPad Apps for Yearbook Staffs

  • The iPad camera: While the built-in camera on the iPad too isn’t all that great for yearbook purposes, the photos it takes can be used on a spread if you keep them small. My staff sometimes uses these when a small mugshot is needed to go with a quote. They also use it to make videos for something new we are trying–more about that later in the post.
  • Notes: The biggest plus for this app is that it is built in. So, if a student doesn’t want to buy an app for taking notes, this will work. As for how staff members might use it, Notes is good for writing to-do lists for their assigned spreads or writing out interview questions.
  • Pages: The staff can use this solid word processing app for writing articles. Setting up questionnaire handouts is another good use for this app.
  • Notablity: If staff members want to invest in a more robust app for taking notes, this is a good one to get. With handwriting recognition and audio recording options available, this app is good for interviewing people.
  • Smugmug: My staff uses this app to quickly view photos we store in a Smugmug account. It definitely makes life easier when several people are trying to choose photos at the same time–no need to worry about printing contact sheets or fighting to get on the one computer housing the photos.
  • Flickr or Picasa Apps: The adviser for my school’s elementary yearbook uses Picasa to easily get photos from parents. If you want to give crowd-sourcing a try for more photos, then setting up an account through either Flickr or Picasa may be a good option. There are a multitude of apps that can access either of these photo sharing sites, so choosing which to use probably boils down to personal preference.

Apps for New Yearbook Features

It may seem a little strange to list video editing apps when talking about yearbooks, but I am mentioning them because of something new my yearbook staff is trying for this year’s book. We are going to use QR codes in our book to add an interactive element and expand coverage.  We haven’t announced this to the student body; so–sshhh–it’s a secret.

We decided to create QR codes that students can scan using their iPads, or smartphones, which will then take them to collections of extra photos, videos, slideshows, polls, our yearbook’s Facebook page, and possibly a yearbook Twitter page.  So, these are some apps that can come in handy for a staff wanting to try something similar.

  • iMovie: Apple’s video editing app makes it easy for staff members to edit video anywhere they go. They don’t have to be chained to a desktop in the lab.
  • Avid Studio: Avid’s video editing app was recently released and comes with some pretty high expectations.
  • QR Code City Scan: This is the app I installed in order to test things when we started discussing the possibility of using QRC codes in the book. It is reliable and I haven’t had any problems with it at all.
  • QR Code Generator: This is the app I use to make the QRC codes which will appear in our  yearbook. I had never used a QRC code, much less tried making one, when we started down this path and I was cranking out QRC codes within 2 or 3 minutes of installing it. Once the code is ready, I save it into the iPad’s camera roll; then I just email it to myself and upload it to our online yearbook program from my laptop.

Well, there it is. Some possible ways to use the iPad and apps in conjunction with the yearbook. While most of the apps listed aren’t the sort of game-changing event I think may be in the yearbook’s near future, they are at least a start.

What apps does your yearbook staff use? What are some apps that you think can be helpful for staffs putting together a yearbook?  Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Input and feedback is always welcome.